LETTER                                                                                                                    ...
RESEARCH LETTER                                                                                                           ...
LETTER RESEARCH                                                         Key to symbols                                    ...
RESEARCH LETTERKNM-ER 60000 and KNM-ER 62003, as well as mandibles KNM-ER                                   9.    Suwa, G....
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New fossils from koobi fora in northern kenya confirm taxonomic diversity in early homo


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New fossils from koobi fora in northern kenya confirm taxonomic diversity in early homo

  1. 1. LETTER doi:10.1038/nature11322New fossils from Koobi Fora in northern Kenyaconfirm taxonomic diversity in early HomoMeave G. Leakey1,2, Fred Spoor3,4, M. Christopher Dean4, Craig S. Feibel5, Susan C. Anton6, Christopher Kiarie1 ´& Louise N. Leakey1,2Since its discovery in 1972 (ref. 1), the cranium KNM-ER 1470 has missing. The lateral half of the right infra-orbital area is weathered,been at the centre of the debate over the number of species of early and the left alveolar process shows some medial displacement andHomo present in the early Pleistocene epoch2 of eastern Africa. damage to the lateral surface. The preserved teeth include the rightKNM-ER 1470 stands out among other specimens attributed to P4, both M1s and M2s, and the unerupted crown of the right M3,early Homo because of its larger size, and its flat and subnasally exposed in its crypt above the M2. The occlusal surface of the rightorthognathic face with anteriorly placed maxillary zygomatic M1 is missing, whereas the left M1 has a partially damaged cervicalroots3. This singular morphology and the incomplete preservation margin. In its dental development, KNM-ER 62000 most closelyof the fossil have led to different views as to whether KNM-ER 1470 resembles a 13- or 14-year-old modern human. But in the hominincan be accommodated within a single species of early Homo that is fossil record, at a time when development was quicker, a close match ishighly variable because of sexual, geographical and temporal KNM-WT 15000, whose chronological age has been estimated atfactors4–9, or whether it provides evidence of species diversity approximately 8 years (ref. 21; Supplementary Note 2).marked by differences in cranial size and facial or masticatory In facial size, KNM-ER 62000 is similar to smaller specimensadaptation3,10–20. Here we report on three newly discovered fossils, attributed to early Homo and H. erectus (for example, KNM-ERaged between 1.78 and 1.95 million years (Myr) old, that clarify the 1813 and D2700). The preserved tooth crowns are much smaller thananatomy and taxonomic status of KNM-ER 1470. KNM-ER 62000, in Paranthropus boisei, larger than in eastern African H. erectus anda well-preserved face of a late juvenile hominin, closely resembles most similar in size to early Homo (Supplementary Notes 1 and 3). InKNM-ER 1470 but is notably smaller. It preserves previously shape they stand out by being relatively long mesiodistally, with theunknown morphology, including moderately sized, mesiodistally molars being rhomboidal in outline. The P4 is two-rooted with anlong postcanine teeth. The nearly complete mandible KNM-ER incompletely divided buccal root; the P3 alveoli indicate a similar60000 and mandibular fragment KNM-ER 62003 have a dental morphology. The predicted adult palate shape is relatively shorter thanarcade that is short anteroposteriorly and flat across the front, with in australopiths (Supplementary Note 4). The alveolar process hassmall incisors; these features are consistent with the arcade mor- parallel postcanine rows, showing the greatest breadth lingually at P4phology of KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 62000. The new fossils and buccally at M1.confirm the presence of two contemporary species of early Homo, The facial morphology of KNM-ER 62000 is derived compared within addition to Homo erectus, in the early Pleistocene of eastern Australopithecus and Paranthropus, and its affinities are with theAfrica. genus Homo. It shows striking similarity to KNM-ER 1470 (Sup- KNM-ER 62000, with an estimated geological age of 1.91 to 1.95 Myr plementary Note 5), sharing many of the features that single out theold (Fig. 1; metrics in Supplementary Note 1), consists of the maxillae, latter as unique among specimens of early Homo3. A well-defined P3the palatine bones and the right zygomatic bone of a late juvenile. On jugum marks the ‘corner’ between the lateral and anterior surfaces ofthe left, the lateral half of the maxillary body, the vertical plate of the the maxillary alveolar process, so that the canine alveoli are fully part ofpalatine bone and the temporal process of the zygomatic bone are the anterior row. The incisor alveoli are narrow mesiodistally for early a b c dFigure 1 | The KNM-ER 62000 face. a–d, Anterior (a), right lateral (b), inferior (c) and superior views (d) of the KNM-ER 62000 face. Scale bar, 3 cm.1 Turkana Basin Institute, PO Box 24926, Nairobi 00502, Kenya. 2Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA. 3Department of Human Evolution, Max PlanckInstitute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig 04103, Germany. 4Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK. 5Department of Earth and PlanetarySciences, and Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8066, USA. 6Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, New York 10003, USA. 9 AU G U S T 2 0 1 2 | VO L 4 8 8 | N AT U R E | 2 0 1 ©2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
  2. 2. RESEARCH LETTER Figure 2 | The KNM-ER 60000 a b mandible and KNM-ER 62003 mandible fragment. a–d, Left lateral (a), right lateral (b), anterior (c) and occlusal (d) views of KNM-ER 60000. e, Occlusal view of KNM-ER 62003, with lines marking the mid- sagittal plane aligned to that of KNM-ER 60000. Scale bar, 3 cm. c d eHomo, show little anterior projection beyond the bicanine line, and the KNM-ER 60000 is a nearly complete adult mandible with anoverlying subnasal area is transversely flat (Fig. 1c–d). In lateral view, a estimated geological age of 1.78 to 1.87 Myr old (Fig. 2; metrics inparticularly straight facial profile is marked by a highly orthognathic Supplementary Note 7). The well-preserved left side lacks only thenasoalveolar clivus (Fig. 1b; Supplementary Notes 5e and 6b, e). There anterior part of the ramus, including the coronoid process, but thisis a distinct nasal sill, and the lateral nasal margins are rounded area is well-preserved on the right side, facilitating full reconstructioninferiorly, but mildly everted superiorly, implying some projection (Supplementary Note 8). The right side of the corpus shows post-of the nasal bridge. The anterior surface of the zygomatic process is mortem deformation. The well-worn dentition with fully formed rootspositioned between P3 and P4. The midface is transversely flat with an is complete through M3. The anterior arcade is flat across the frontinfra-orbital area that slopes antero-inferiorly. The infraorbital because narrow and short-rooted incisors sit medial, but barelyforamen is placed medially and close to the orbital margin. The pre- anterior to the canines. The labiolingual incisor crown dimensions fallserved inter-orbital morphology indicates that the nasal cavity was tall. below the range observed for most eastern African Homo andBi-orbital to maxillo-alveolar breadth proportions indicate that the Paranthropus. The P3 to M2 crowns are small for Paranthropus, andupper face is distinctly narrow (Supplementary Note 1). their sizes are below or at the low end of the size range for early Homo, Figure 3 | Dental arcades a b compared. The reconstructed upper arcade of KNM-ER 62000 (outlined in black) occluded with the reconstructed lower arcades of KNM- ER 60000 (a) and KNM-ER 1802 (b), showing a good match with KNM-ER 60000 but not with KNM- ER 1802. Scale bar, 3 cm. See Supplementary Note 10 for details.2 0 2 | N AT U R E | VO L 4 8 8 | 9 AU G U S T 2 0 1 2 ©2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
  3. 3. LETTER RESEARCH Key to symbols particularly their small mesiodistal dimensions (Supplementary Note 9). However, the M3 dimensions are well within the range of early Homo, 10 V Pumice and the molars increase in size from M1 to M3. Both M2 and M3 show a V Tuff C7 cusp. Both premolars have distal and mesial roots that are com- Epsilon cross-strata pressed mesiodistally and incompletely separated by a deep lingual Sand groove. The tall anterior corpus has a mandibular incisure and a Gravel lag labially positioned symphyseal tuber. The anterior symphysealKBS Member Silt surface makes an angle of 70u with the alveolar margin. Lingually, an Bioclastic carbonate obliquely oriented post-incisive plane precedes a roughened Vertisol genioglossus attachment, but there are no separate superior and Clay inferior transverse tori. The tall but relatively narrow corpus has a 40 single mental foramen below P4, and a strongly marked marginal torus * Mammal bone with striae platysmatica that join distinct tubercles at C/P3 and M1/M2. V M Molluscs The broad, tall ramus rises perpendicular to the occlusal plane and its KBS Tuff V E Etheria root at M2 defines a wide extramolar sulcus (10 mm). The notch Bk between the condyle and the taller coronoid process is shallow; the Hominin specimen with latter markedly projects anteriorly (above M2 /M3). The gonial angle is stratigraphic derivation 100u; this region is everted and extends below the corpus base causing a Rhizoliths ‘notched’ appearance in lateral view. Muscle attachments are distinct: Bk Calcic horizon the masseter formed a thick everted flange infero-posteriorly and a clear fossa for its deep head; the marked medial pterygoid insertions KNM-ER 60000 extend to the mylohyoid line, which is partially bridged on the left. The mandibular foramen sits high above the occlusal plane. KNM-ER 62003, with an estimated geological age of 1.90 to 1.95 Myr 30 old, is a mandible fragment from just left of the midline to the distal right M1 (Fig. 2; metrics in Supplementary Note 7). The midline inferior border is missing. The roots of the left I1 to right M1 are present, and the right P3 to M1 retain parts of their crown. Complete roots, thick cortical bone and substantial occlusal wear indicate that it is an adult or late sub-adult. KNM-ER 62003 shares the following features with KNM- ER 60000: a flat anterior arcade with short and narrow incisor roots, small premolars, similar symphysis orientation (the angle of the anterior Bk surface is approximately 70u), an oblique post-incisive plane, and similar mental foramen and marginal torus positions. The marginal torus is less strongly developed in KNM-ER 62003 than in KNM-ER 60000, and a well-developed genial fossa delineates a superior transverse Bk torus. 20 We attribute these mandibles to Homo rather than Paranthropusupper Burgi Member based on their small molars and premolars, and tall but mediolaterally narrow corpora. Despite similarities in P3–M2 size, KNM-ER 60000 differs from H. erectus as it has a combination of smaller anterior teeth, a larger M3, a broader extramolar sulcus and, compared with the few * known relatively complete adult and late juvenile mandibles (KNM- ER 992, KNM-WT 15000, D2735 and D2600), larger bigonial and Marker KNM-ER 62003 M bicondylar breadths for dental arcade size. Bed g KNM-ER 62000 The discovery of a fossil (KNM-ER 62000) that is broadly contem- porary with and very similar in shape to KNM-ER 1470, makes it likely that the two specimens do indeed represent a distinct taxon, separate from morphologically more generalized craniofacial specimens, such as KNM-ER 1813 and OH 65 (Supplementary Note 5). Importantly, M although KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 62000 span the full known 10 Bk size-range of early Homo, they share the same distinctive facial morpho- * logy, suggesting that allometry or sexual dimorphism5,6,8 are unlikely to E be factors that underlie the differences in early Homo facial architecture. The palate and teeth of KNM-ER 62000 make it possible to infer aspects of the mandible that occluded with the distinctive upper dental arcade of this specimen and KNM-ER 1470 (Fig. 3; Supplementary Note 10). KNM-ER 1802 is the mandible invariably grouped with KNM-ER 1470 (refs 3, 10, 12, 14–16), and is key to making associations with other specimens7,22. However, when reconstructed it seems to be an unlikely M match for KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 62000, as it has a long dental KNM-ER 1470 M arcade and an anteriorly arched incisor row. Instead, the new specimens Figure 4 | A composite section of the Karari Ridge strata. The stratigraphic context of the three hominin fossils are shown (detailed individual sections are provided in Supplementary Note 13). The thickness of strata is given in metres. 9 AU G U S T 2 0 1 2 | VO L 4 8 8 | N AT U R E | 2 0 3 ©2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
  4. 4. RESEARCH LETTERKNM-ER 60000 and KNM-ER 62003, as well as mandibles KNM-ER 9. Suwa, G. et al. Early Pleistocene Homo erectus fossils from Konso, southern Ethiopia. Anthropol. Sci. 115, 133–151 (2007).1482 and KNM-ER 1801, are a better match for KNM-ER 1470 and 10. Leakey, R. E. F. Further evidence of Lower Pleistocene hominids from East Rudolf,KNM-ER 62000 because of their shorter arcade, including a short pre- North Kenya, 1973. Nature 248, 653–656 (1974).molar row, and a short, non-projecting incisor row (Supplementary 11. Wood, B. A. in Ancestors: The Hard Evidence (ed. Delson, E.) 206–214 (Alan R. Liss, 1985).Notes 10 and 11). Moreover, the pronounced anterior projection of 12. Stringer, C. B. in Major Topics in Primate and Human Evolution (eds Wood, B., Martin,the ramus of KNM-ER 60000 can be comfortably accommodated by L. & Andrews, P.) 266–294 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986).the anteriorly placed zygomatic processes seen in the two crania. The 13. Lieberman, D. E., Pilbeam, D. R. & Wood, B. A. A probabilistic approach to the problem of sexual dimorphism in Homo habilis: A comparison of KNM-ER 1470species name of KNM-ER 1470, and of its associated specimens, and KNM-ER 1813. J. Hum. Evol. 17, 503–511 (1988).depends on whether OH 7, the type specimen of H. habilis, is part of 14. Groves, C. P. A Theory of Human and Primate Evolution (Clarendon, 1989).this group (see, for example, refs 15, 16, 19 for opposing views). If OH 7 15. Wood, B. Origin and evolution of the genus Homo. Nature 355, 783–790 (1992). 16. Rightmire, G. P. Variation among early Homo crania from Olduvai Gorge and theis not part of this group, as suggested here by mandibular tooth shape Koobi Fora region. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 90, 1–33 (1993).(Supplementary Note 9) and perhaps by a photographic reconstruction 17. Kramer, A., Donnelly, S. M., Kidder, J. H., Ousley, S. D. & Olah, S. M. Craniometricof the mandible6, the name H. rudolfensis is available23. However, we variation in large-bodied hominids: testing the single-species hypothesis for Homourge caution with respect to decisions on nomenclature until OH 7, habilis. J. Hum. Evol. 29, 443–462 (1995). 18. Kimbel, W. H., Johanson, D. C. & Rak, Y. Systematic assessment of a maxilla ofwhich has extensive and complex taphonomic distortion, is studied Homo from Hadar, Ethiopia. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 103, 235–262 (1997).further and its association with other fossils can be evaluated better. 19. Blumenschine, R. J. et al. Late Pliocene Homo and hominid land use from western KNM-ER 1470 provides the key evidence in studies recognizing two Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Science 299, 1217–1221 (2003). 20. Clarke, R. J. A Homo habilis maxilla and other newly-discovered hominid fossilsspecies of eastern African early Homo3,10–20. Specimens have been from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. J. Hum. Evol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/grouped with KNM-ER 1470 mostly on the basis of a relatively large j.jhevol.2011.11.007 (4 May 2012).cranial size or inferred masticatory specialization3,12,15,16,19,20, because it 21. Dean, M. C. & Smith, B. H. in The First Humans: Origin of the Genus Homo (eds Grine, F. E., Fleagle, J. G. & Leakey, R. E.) 101–120 (Springer, 2009).has no tooth crowns preserved, and because before the discovery of 22. Bromage, T. G., Schrenk, F. & Zonneveld, F. W. Paleoanthropology of the MalawiKNM-ER 62000 no other fossil shared its distinctive facial morpho- Rift: An early hominid mandible from the Chiwondo Beds, northern Malawi.logy. The new evidence presented here is not only consistent with two J. Hum. Evol. 28, 71–108 (1995). 23. Wood, B. ‘Homo rudolfensis’ Alexeev, 1986 – fact or phantom? J. Hum. Evol. 36,distinct craniofacial morphs but also with two mandibular morphs. 115–118 (1999).One of these, best represented by KNM-ER 60000, seems to be asso- 24. Brown, F. H. & Feibel, C. S. Revision of lithostratigraphic nomenclature in the Koobiciated with the species to which KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 62000 Fora region, Kenya. J. Geol. Soc. Lond. 143, 297–310 (1986). 25. McDougall, I. & Brown, F. H. Precise 40Ar/39Ar geochronology for the upper Koobibelong. The three new specimens will greatly aid the reassessment of Fora Formation, Turkana Basin, northern Kenya. J. Geol. Soc. Lond. 163, 205–220the systematics and early radiation of the genus Homo. (2006). 26. Lourens, L., Hilgen, F., Shackleton, N. J., Laskar, J. & Wilson, D. in A Geologic TimeMETHODS SUMMARY Scale (eds Gradstein, F., Ogg, J. & Smith, A.) 409–440 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004).Details of the new fossils are given in Supplementary Note 12. Their stratigraphic 27. Braun, D. R. et al. Early hominin diet included diverse terrestrial and aquaticcontext within the Koobi Fora Formation24 is well constrained (Fig. 4; Supplementary animals 1.95 Ma in East Turkana, Kenya. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107,Notes 13), and their age derives from two temporal markers, the KBS Tuff and the 10002–10007 (2010).Olduvai Subchron. The KBS Tuff has been isotopically dated to 1.87 Myr ago (ref. 25) 28. Joordens, J. C. A. et al. An astronomically-tuned climate framework for hominins inand it outcrops within each of the stratigraphic sequences discussed here (Fig. 4). The the Turkana Basin. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 307, 1–8 (2011). 29. Brock, A., Isaac, G. & Ll.. Paleomagnetic stratigraphy and chronology of hominid-base of the Olduvai Subchron, dated to 1.95 Myr ago (ref. 26), has recently been bearing sediments east of Lake Rudolf, Kenya. Nature 247, 344–348 (1974).documented just to the north27 and south28 of these sections. KNM-ER 62003 was 30. McDougall, I. et al. New single crystal 40Ar/39Ar ages improve time scale forrecovered from the lowermost upper Burgi Member in Area 130, just above a deposition of the Omo Group, Omo–Turkana Basin, East Africa. J. Geol. Soc. Lond.prominent intra-formational conglomerate (marker bed g), 14 m below the KBS 169, 213–226 (2012).Tuff, and very close to the projected level of the base of the Olduvai Subchron. Supplementary Information is linked to the online version of the paper atEstimates of its age, based on stratigraphic scaling, give an age of 1.90 to 1.95 Myr www.nature.com/nature.old. KNM-ER 62000 was discovered in Area 131, in a comparable stratigraphic Acknowledgements We thank the Governments of Kenya and Tanzania for permissionposition 17 m below the KBS Tuff, deriving from a channel sand body that locally to carry out this research, the Kenya Wildlife Service for permission to work in the Sibiloierodes through the same marker bed g. Its estimated age is 1.91 to 1.95 Myr old. National Park, the National Museums of Kenya and the National Museum of TanzaniaKNM-ER 60000 was recovered in Area 105 from a broken sandstone block that for access to specimens in their care, and the Turkana Basin Institute for support. Thederives from just above the KBS Tuff, and is therefore younger than 1.87 Myr old. On National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation and the Max Planck Societythe basis of the local sections in Area 105, it is difficult to put a minimum age on the funded fieldwork or laboratory studies. Many people helped us with this research, including N. Adamali, R. Blumenschine, C. Boesch, F. Brown, P. Gunz, J. J. Hublin,fossil, but magnetic polarity stratigraphy for that section29 indicates that the fossil W. Kimbel, K. Kupczik, R. Leakey, C. Lepre, D. Lieberman, P. Msemwa, R. Odoyo,must lie within the Olduvai Subchron, and therefore cannot be younger than 1.78 R. Quinn, P. Rightmire, L. Schroeder, U. Schwarz, M. Skinner, H. Temming, A. Winzer andMyr old26. Finally, KNM-ER 1470, recovered from Area 131 and derived from 36 m B. Wood. Curatorial assistance was given by A. Kweka, F. Manthi, E. Mbua, M. Muungubelow the KBS Tuff, now has an estimated age of 2.03 Myr old30. and J. Thiringi. KNM-ER 60000 was discovered by C. Nyete, KNM-ER 62000 by D. Elgite and KNM-ER 62003 by R. Moru. We particularly thank the Koobi Fora Research ProjectReceived 25 March; accepted 12 June 2012. field crew: A. Aike, S. Aila, D. Elgite, M. Kirinya, D. Gidole, O. Kyalo, A. Longaye, A. Lawri, E. Linga, J. Lonyericho, S. Lomeiku, D. Muema, A. Moru, R. Moru, S. Muge, C. Nyete,1. Leakey, R. E. F. Evidence of an advanced Plio-Pleistocene hominid from East L. Nzuve, H. Sale and A. Sharamo whose fieldwork led to the discovery of these Rudolf, Kenya. Nature 242, 447–450 (1973). specimens, and camp managers J. Mutuku and T. Ngundo. H. Churcher, J. Coreth,2. Gibbard, P. L. et al. Formal ratification of the quaternary system/period and the A. Hammond, J. LaCarrubba, F. Kirera, C. Lepre, M. Noback, R. Quinn, M. Skinner, Pleistocene series/epoch with a base at 2.58 Ma. J. Quaternary Sci. 25, 96–102 I. Wallace and S. Wright participated in one or more of the 2007, 2008 or 2009 field (2010). expeditions when these specimens were discovered. We are grateful to F. and J. Pinto,3. Wood, B. Koobi Fora Research Project Vol. 4: Hominid Cranial Remains (Clarendon, W. Philips, M. Hettwer, P. Sylvester, H. Buchi, N. Seligman, E. von Simpson, J. Doerr and 1991). B. and J. Chelberg for their financial support of this fieldwork.4. Howell, F. C. in Evolution of African Mammals (eds Maglio, V. J. & Cooke, H. B. S.) Author Contributions M.G.L. and L.N.L. directed the field research, in which C.S.F. and 154–248 (Harvard Univ. Press, 1978). F.S. participated. C.K. and F.S. prepared the hominin fossils, F.S. and M.C.D. made the5. Johanson, D. C. et al. New partial skeleton of Homo habilis from Olduvai Gorge. virtual reconstructions, and C.S.F. studied the geological context. M.G.L., F.S., M.C.D., Nature 327, 205–209 (1987). S.C.A. and L.N.L. made comparative observations and carried out analyses. F.S. took the6. Tobias, P. V. Olduvai Gorge Volume 4: The Skulls and Endocasts of Homo habilis. lead in writing the paper, and S.C.A., M.C.D. and C.S.F. contributed. (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991).7. Suwa, G., White, T. D. & Howell, F. C. Mandibular post-canine dentition from the Author Information Reprints and permissions information is available at Shungura Formation, Ethiopia: c rown morphology, taxonomic allocation, and www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests. Plio-Pleistocene hominid evolution. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 101, 247–282 (1996). Readers are welcome to comment on the online version of this article at8. Miller, J. M. Craniofacial variation in Homo habilis: an analysis of the evidence for www.nature.com/nature. Correspondence and requests for materials should be multiple species. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 112, 103–128 (2000). addressed to M.G.L. (meaveleakey@gmail.com) or F.S. (f.spoor@eva.mpg.de).2 0 4 | N AT U R E | VO L 4 8 8 | 9 AU G U S T 2 0 1 2 ©2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved